Spencer Saddlering Carbine (mod. 1865 - .50RF)

The Spencer repeating rifle was first adopted by the United States Navy, and later by the United States Army, and it was used during the American Civil War, where it was a popular weapon. The Confederates occasionally captured some of these weapons and ammunition, but, as they were unable to manufacture the cartridges because of shortages of copper, their ability to take advantage of the weapons was limited.

Gettysburg was the first major battle of the war where Spencer rifles were used, as they had recently been issued to the 13th Pennsylvania Reserves. They were used at the Chickamauga and had become fairly widespread in the Western armies by 1864. Repeater rifles for comparison were rare in the Army of the Potomac.

Notable early instances of use included the Battle of Hoover's Gap (where Col. John T. Wilder's "Lightning Brigade" of mounted infantry effectively demonstrated the firepower of repeaters), and the Gettysburg Campaign, where two regiments of the Michigan Brigade (under Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer) carried them at the Battle of Hanover and at East Cavalry Field. As the war progressed, Spencers were carried by a number of Union cavalry and mounted infantry regiments and provided the Union army with a firepower advantage over their Confederate adversaries. At the Battle of Nashville, 9,000 mounted infantrymen armed with the Spencer, under the command of Maj. Gen. James H. Wilson, chief of cavalry for the Military Division of the Mississippi, rode around Gen. Hood's left flank and attacked from the rear. President Lincoln's assassin John Wilkes Booth was armed with a Spencer carbine at the time he was captured and killed.

Spencer Saddlering Carbine (mod. 1865 - .50RF)


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